Petersburg residents have voted to keep a sales tax exemption for borough residents 65 and older and it wasn’t close.
Tuesday’s vote was almost 3-1 against a proposal to end the tax break for seniors that dates back to 1980.
In unofficial results, it was 295 in favor and 777 votes against replacing the tax exemption with an annual rebate check for low income seniors. That means the senior tax exemption will stay on the books.
The proposal was based on one enacted in Sitka earlier this year. Supporters of the measure cited a growing senior population and a budget crunch for the borough. Opponents argued that the borough needs to cut its spending before raising more sales tax revenue from retirees in the community. It was the only issue on Petersburg’s ballot this year. Past attempts to end the tax exemption have gone down by similar margins.
Voters have elected a mix of youth and experience to the borough assembly. 72-year-old retired U.S. Forest Service employee and former assembly member Bob Lynn was the top vote getter in the six person race for two seats. 521 voted for Lynn this year. He lost his bid for an assembly seat a year ago but will return this year.
31-year-old fishing tender skipper Taylor Norheim looks to be winning the other seat. He has 353 votes. It’s Norheim’s first foray into local elected office.
Former city councilors Bill Tremblay, also retired from the Forest Service, and Marc Martinsen, a commercial fisherman, came in third and fourth. Tremblay has 321 votes, Martinsen 310. Assembly incumbent and retired construction laborer Nancy Strand has lost her seat, receiving only 294 votes. Another 170 people voted for Icicle Seafoods fleet manager Don Spigelmyre despite his desire to withdraw from the race this year.
Overall 1090 people voted, including 300 early ballots. That’s a 39 percent turnout. Seven absentee ballots have been mailed out and not yet returned. There are also six questioned ballots. But those aren’t enough to change any of the results. The borough assembly will finalize the tally on Friday afternoon.